June 26, 2017
June 7, 2015
How do you reconcile the wrath of God with the love of God? Many are uncomfortable with the idea of God’s wrath, as sinners should be! Some choose to ignore the wrathful side of God all together. But passages like Nahum 1:6 are hard to ignore: “Who can withstand His indignation? Who can endure His burning anger? His wrath is poured out like fire, even rocks are shattered before Him.” (HCSB)
Others argue that God was judgmental and full of wrath in the Old Testament but forgiving and full of love in the New Testament. That explanation ignores much evidence and is far too simplistic. It also makes God sound as if He suffers from some form of multiple personality disorder or that His nature is changeable. Neither is true.
The truth is, because of His holiness, God is both judge AND love. It’s not an either/or situation, it is a both/and situation. God’s perfect love demands that He also be the perfect judge. Anger and wrath are sometimes used to describe God’s acts, but never His nature. His nature as the God who is love requires that He sometimes act in wrath and anger. The flood in the days of Noah is a prime example. God judged the earth and thousands died due to the judgment and wrath of God. “Noah, however, found favor in the sight of the Lord.” (Genesis 6:8, HCSB)
The wrath of God is not His last word. There is always that “however,” when God is compelled by His great love to offer salvation. There is also time allowed for repentance and individuals sent by God to call people to repentance. The New Testament speaks of Noah as a “preacher of righteousness,” (2 Peter 2:5) who no doubt called his contemporaries to repentance.
The ultimate and final reconciliation of God’s wrath and His love occurred when the two collided on a cross on Golgotha. There God’s wrath was satisfied by the body and blood of His only Begotten. At the same time, Jesus’ sacrifice became a substitute for as many as believe.
“Since we’ve compiled this long and sorry record as sinners . . . and proved that we are utterly incapable of living the glorious lives God wills for us, God did it for us. Out of sheer generosity he put us in right standing with himself. A pure gift. He got us out of the mess we’re in and restored us to where he always wanted us to be. And he did it by means of Jesus Christ. God sacrificed Jesus on the altar of the world to clear that world of sin. Having faith in him sets us in the clear. God decided on this course of action in full view of the public—to set the world in the clear with himself through the sacrifice of Jesus, finally taking care of the sins he had so patiently endured. This is not only clear, but it’s now—this is current history! God sets things right. He also makes it possible for us to live in his rightness.” (Romans 3:23–26, The Message, emphasis added)